ODA issues box tree moth quarantine

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is issuing a quarantine for six counties in southwest Ohio to prevent the spread of an invasive insect — the box tree moth.

Beginning April 11, 2024, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Greene, Montgomery, and Warren counties will have regulations in place restricting the movement of boxwood shrubs out of the area. ODA is encouraging landscapers and residents in these counties to check the quarantine boundaries and not transport the plants outside of the quarantined area.

Box tree moth. Image courtesy of Walter Schön, www.schmetterling-raupe.de/art/perspectalis.htm, and Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio.

The box tree moth was detected in Ohio in June 2023, near the border of Hamilton and Clermont counties. More sightings have been confirmed in the quarantined counties listed above. Box tree moths are invasive pests from East Asia that pose a threat to boxwood plantings and the horticulture industry. Boxwood is an important ornamental shrub that is a valuable part of Ohio’s nursery stock economy. Federal and state officials are asking industry and the public to report suspected box tree moth sightings through ODA’s reporting tool.

Ohio Department of Agriculture plant health inspectors and United States Department of Agriculture staff will be conducting inspections and placing traps to monitor populations. Box tree moths are not a threat to Ohio’s native plants.

Residents can look for and report any potential infestation by following these steps:

  • Familiarize yourself with the insect’s appearance and evidence of damage on boxwood shrubs.
  • Check any boxwood plants you have for signs of box tree moth life stages.
  • If you find any evidence of infestation, take a picture, and report it.

Evidence of damage include chewed, cut, or missing leaves, yellowing or brown leaves, white webbing, and green-black excrement on or around the plant.

Box tree moth caterpillars are green and yellow with white, yellow, and black stripes and black spots. Adult box tree moths are nocturnal and have white, slightly iridescent wings, with an irregular thick brown border. Landscape professionals, nursery, and others in the green industry can contact the Plant Pest Control Section if they have any questions about the new regulation at 614-728-6400.

Please report any box tree moth sightings to ODA’s Division of Plant Health.

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